After much delay, high school seniors in Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester and Essex will finally get to participate in a somewhat traditional graduation ceremony.

The first will be Manchester Essex Regional High School's celebration on Friday, July 31, at 4:30 p.m., at the high school's Hyland Field, 36 Lincoln St. in Manchester.

Gloucester High School will follow with a ceremony Sunday, Aug. 2, on New Balance Field at Newell Stadium. School officials are keeping details close to their chests as only graduates and immediate family will be allowed to attend, per the city Board of Health. 

Rockport High School is planning its own socially distant ceremony on Wednesday, Aug. 5, at 4 p.m., on the high school's soccer field at 24 Jerden's Lane. 

"There's going to be a couple of guest speakers and a small jazz quartet," said Rockport Superintendent Rob Liebow. "It's wonderful to re-celebrate the Class of 2020 who has lost so much already."

Back in June, students received their diplomas through a drive-through graduation ceremony in the school parking lot. The live stream of the event is available to re-watch on the school's Facebook page.

Manchester Essex's graduation ceremony will be held in similar style to year's past despite some COVID-related precautions.

"We are excited to have the opportunity to celebrate the Class of 2020 at a traditional graduation," said Principal Patricia Puglisi. "We are implementing guidelines approved by the (town) Board of Health in order to provide a safe celebration for all."

For example, according to a press release issued by the district, each diploma will be placed on a table for graduates to pick up as they walk across stage. Handshakes will not be permitted. 

Several speakers are scheduled to deliver remarks, according to the district. All microphones will be protected with a disposable plastic hood, which will be replaced after each speaker is finished. Live music will not be performed, instead, music will be piped in through the Hyland Field's speaker system. 

Graduates are permitted to bring only five guests to the ceremony. Each guest will be seated 6 feet apart from one another on the field. Guests will not be allowed to leave their seats to take photos. The district asks those who are feeling sick, showing COVID-19 symptoms or at high risk of catching the virus to not attend the ceremony. 

The field will open to the public at 4:15 p.m. when graduates are expected to arrive to prepare for the ceremony. Face coverings are required when entering and exiting Hyland Field. Bathrooms and a sanitation station will be available by the refreshment stand. Congregating elsewhere on campus is prohibited; once the ceremony is over, the district asks everyone to leave the premises as quickly and safely as possible. 

Back in June, school staff organized a parade to celebrate the Class of 2020. Students decorated their cars and drove with a police procession through the streets of Manchester and Essex. More that 80 cars participated in the parade. 

Gloucester seniors also took part in a car parade and watched a video presentation about their class on a large screen from their cars.

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or mcronin@gloucestertimes.com.

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